Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court on Friday unanimously dismissed an opposition bid to have presidential election results annulled over alleged rigging in favor of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
In a verdict widely predicted by analysts, Chief Justice Luke Malaba strongly criticized the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party’s case and upheld Mnangagwa’s win.
“The court finds the applicant has failed to place before it clear, direct, sufficient and credible evidence” of irregularities, Malaba said in his ruling.
Mnangagwa, of the ruling ZANU-PF party, won the July 30 election with 50.8 percent — just enough to meet the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff against MDC leader Nelson Chamisa.
His inauguration is to take place today, Zimbabwean Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi said.
MDC lawyers had argued that the results should be annulled due to alleged “massive doctoring” of the vote.
“I once again reiterate my call for peace and unity,” Mnangagwa said in a television address after the ruling. “Let us put whatever differences we might have behind us. It is time to build our nation and move forward together.”
Mnangagwa, who has vowed to revive Zimbabwe’s ruined economy, had hoped the elections would draw a line under Mugabe’s repressive 37-year rule and open up a stream of foreign investment and aid.
Campaigning was more open and peaceful than previous votes under Mugabe, but the election was marred by the army opening fire on protesters, killing six, allegations of vote-rigging and a violent crackdown on opposition activists.
Chamisa tweeted “victory is not lost” and said that the party would listen to its followers in the continuing fight “to rescue our beautiful Zimbabwe from the jaws of poverty, corruption and dishonesty.”
University of Zimbabwe legal expert Derek Matyszak had predicted that the opposition faced an uphill struggle, given the courts’ historic tilt toward ZANU-PF, which has ruled since 1980.
International monitors largely praised the conduct of the election itself, although EU observers said that Mnangagwa benefited from an “unlevel playing field.”
After the ruling, the EU issued a statement saying that all parties should accept the verdict and urging the new government to push through electoral reforms.
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